If you already have a little junk in the trunk, the last thing you need from a lower body workout is more bulk. A study published in “European Journal of Applied Physiology” in November 2002 found that exercises performed with low resistance and high repetition induced muscular adaptation without increasing size. Isolate the muscles that comprise and support your hips with high-rep resistance exercises and a diversified cardio training program.
Numerous muscles originate in the pelvic and hip region; however, only a few are visible on the surface and influence the appearance of your hips. Your gluteus medius and minimus sit on the upper portion of your buttocks, directly posterior of your hips bones. The muscles work together to lift your leg to the side and internally rotate your thigh when your your knee is lifted. They also support the body when you’re standing on one leg, and maintain your gait when you walk or run. Your tensor fascia latae runs along the front part of your hips down the outer portion of your thigh. Think “saddle bag region” and you get the picture. The muscle is responsible for both lifting your leg to the front and to the side.
Moderate Weight-Bearing Cardio
Given the responsibility of the gluteus medius and minimus in maintaining gait, moderate walking, dancing, hiking or running keeps the muscles constantly activated. Additionally, when you stay off your butt, so does the fat. Numerous studies, including one published in the July 2008 issue of the “International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity,” indicate that a sedentary lifestyle affects body fatness as much or more than what you do in the gym. So, get up offa that thing!
Exercises performed while on your hands and knees isolate your butt, thighs and hips like squats can only dream of. A study published by the American Council on Exercise found quadruped hip extensions twice as effective at recruiting the gluteus medius when compared to traditional squats. Perform them by kneeling on all fours and lifting one leg behind you while keeping it bent until the sole of the foot faces the ceiling. The exercise works both the working leg and the kneeling leg, and should be performed 20 to 30 times, or until muscle exhaustion. Change it up by lifting the working leg to the side or straightening it and lifting to the rear.
Abduction Resistance Exercises
Abducting your legs simply means moving them away from the center of your body to the side. You can perform them standing, with side leg lifts, or for added resistance while lying on one side and lifting your top leg. If these provide too little resistance, grab some exercise tubing and loop it around your ankles. Lower your hips into a squat position with your feet hip-width apart and walk sideways, keeping the tension in the band. Do 10 steps in each direction.
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: Muscular Adaptations in Response to Three Different Resistance-Training Regimens: Specificity of Repetition Maximum Training Zones
- International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity: Joint Associations of Multiple Leisure-time Sedentary Behaviours and Physical Activity
- American Council on Exercise: GetFit: Glutes Study: Glutes To The Max
Pamela Ellgen began writing in 2000 for "The Asian Reporter" newspaper. She is an award-winning journalist and writes on religion, culture, health and fitness. Ellgen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Washington State University and is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.